An Atheist explains the difference between a cult and a religion.

Often atheists will associate all religions with being cults. In this video Hemant Mehta, an atheist YouTuber and blogger gives what I believe is a fair assessment of the differences between cults and religions.

 

Why I like talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons

I think there are many Christians who feel intimidated to talk to Jehovah Witnesses’ and Mormons. Most of the time we realize that the missionaries from those religions have done a lot of studying and preparing to share about their faith and we find that intimidating because we feel like we haven’t done much of that ourselves. But I wanted to challenge you to think of this differently.

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Why we must find truth with not only our hearts, but also our minds according to Paul

Many religions in the world claim to be the true one. Of course we know that not all them can be true, because they contradict. Islam says Jesus isn’t God, Christianity does. Hinduism says hell doesn’t exist, western religions do. Buddhism says this world is an illusion, Judaism says that God created the very real world that we see. So how do we determine which one is true?

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Why the Christian Creation Model makes more sense of suffering than any other religion.

Atheists often object to christianity and other religions because they believe that if a all powerful and all good God existed he would not allow such suffering in the world. I contend that not only does the Christian model do more to explain the suffering in the world than Atheism, but it also explains suffering better than any other religious view, and here is why: we all desire that the suffering on earth is not only some day taken away and gotten rid of of, but also that there is some purpose or reason for that suffering.

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Does the Jehovah Witness’ Watchtower speak for God like a prophet?

If you have talked with Jehovah Witness’ for any period of time you know that many of their doctrines come directly from a society called The Watchtower. The society publishes all of the substantial content of Jehovah Witness’, there is no independent Jehovah Witness publications. As the authority for Jehovah Witness’ it claims to speak for God much like the prophets that we see in the Bible. So should we trust it? Well, it seems the best way to know would be testing them by the Biblical standard.

In Deuteronomy 18 we are told that if someone is a true prophet of God they will not prophecy anything that doesn’t come to pass or speak in the name of any other God. As for the second part of that test, Watchtower is on track, it claims to speak only for the God we see in the Bible. In the second part we run into a slew of problems as many of the predictions of the Watchtower have never come to pass.

Here are some predictions that the Watchtower has made in the past:

  • Christ would come back in 1874
  • The world would end in 1914
  • Old Testament Saints would come to earth in 1925
  • The world will end and Christ would come back in 1975

The Watchtower itself admits this predictions were wrong.

So, does the Watchtower stand to the test in Deuteronomy 18? Obviously not, even according to the Watchtower itself.

In fact the Watchtower even tried ‘correcting’ some of these predictions moving dates further out when they were wrong initially only to be wrong even a second time. Perhaps getting something wrong once could be a mistake of some sort, though the Biblical test says otherwise, but once it was wrong a second time we should be completely abandoning such a source as a reliable mouthpiece of God. If they made a ‘mistake’ about something as important as when Christ comes back why should we believe that they are not leading us astray in other doctrines that they teach?

pyramid_russel_gravesiteEarly Watchtower beliefs under one of the Jehovah Witness’ church fathers Charles Taze Russel actually believed the Ancient Pyramid of Egypt to be a sort of ‘Stone Bible’. It was believed measurements in the Pyramid were prophetic to the beginning of ‘the years of trouble’. The doctrine was taught to Jehovah Witness’ for fifty years from 1879-1928, after Russel was buried under a pyramid marked grave.

Russel’s successor flipped from calling the pyramid a ‘stone Bible’ to a work of the Egyptians under the influence of the Devil. Quite a flip for a group that should be speaking for God.

The Watchtower Society is very unorthodox in many beliefs. The Watchtower doesn’t believe Jesus is God, they reject the Trinity, regard blood transfusions sinful, celebrating birthdays as sinful and have changed vital words or added words to the Bible in their New World Translation. But given the obvious unreliability of Society I think we can steer clear from accepting any of these doctrines.

Should we call God Jehovah as Jehovah Witnesses’ claim?

I’ve recently been in conversations with Jehovah Witnesses on a number of subjects. If you don’t know much about JW’s you probably still aren’t surprised to know that using the name ‘Jehovah’ for God is something that they find of great importance.  So, I thought I would give a little background about the name to explore JW’s claim that we should only call God Jehovah.

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Is Christianity as violent as Islam?

A recent poll by CBS has shown that a  large majority of democrats, 66%, believe that Christianity is just as violent as Islam. Among Independants 53% believed Christianity was just as violent and 25% of Republicans. 

So one must ask, what makes so many Americans, 50% of them in total, believe that Islam and Christianity promote or contain the same level of violence? Here are a few of the reasons I believe that most people have come to that conclusion, and the reasons I believe that they are wrong to think so. 

When people think of violence and religion, I think there is one thing that immediately pops into our minds, the crusades. No doubt both Muslims and Christians performed some horrible atrocities during this time, there is a reason modern history calls it the Dark Ages. But there is a few things that we should keep in mind in light of this horrible time in history.

First, who started it? Often times I think we are told in our history classes that Christians were the instigators of the Crusades. Muslims were living peacefully for years and then Christians decided to take what was never theirs to begin with. That’s not how it happened. Let’s remember that Christianity started in Jerusalem after Jesus death in 33A.D., Christianity rather literally and nonviolently took over the Roman Empire long before Muhammad appears on the scene in 594A.D. Muhammads predecessor Abu Bakr then attacked Jerusalem in 636A.D. So who started the Crusades? The Muslims. 
Along that note, we can see Christians can view the crusades as trying to gain back land that was taken from them.

Second, it can easily be understood that it was the Christians who stopped the crusades, because in our modern era it was Islam who had control of Jerusalem when we gave Israel its sovereignty after WWII. If the Christians hadn’t stopped the crusades would never have stopped. 

Furthermore, we no longer have Christians declaring Holy Wars and using their religion as justification. Within Islam we still have a small minority of Muslims declaring Jihad using Islam as their justification. I agree these Muslims do represent a minority of Muslims but that minority still consists of millions of people.

I must concede that perhaps these millions have twisted the words of the Quran to support what they believe. Religions are often used to justify the very things they were designed to be against. In that case it seems to make sense to look at the founders of Christianity and of Islam when talking of whether one is more violent than the other. Muhammad, was a clearly a military leader. He lead and participated in violent raids of merchants and after founding Islam went to war against the armies of Mecca on several occasions and approved of the slaughtering of Jews whom he believed deceived him in one of those battles. Jesus on the other hand told his followers to love and pray for their enemies. And died by the violence he never instigated. 

The same can be said of their followers. The immediate leaders of Islam after Muhammad were violent warring leaders, case in point, Abu Bakr who attacked Jerusalem. The immediate followers of Jesus promoted peace and died as martyrs.

So is Christianity as violent as Islam? Lets look at the topics thus far:

  • Islam started the crusades
  • Christianity ended the crusades
  • A large number (though a minority) of Muslims still believe in violent Holy Wars or Jihad
  • Muhammad as founder of Islam was violent, while Jesus as the founder of Christianity promoted peace.
  • The followers of Muhammad promoted Islam thru violence, the followers of Jesus promoted Christianity by dying for their convictions.

So are both religions equally violent? You decide.